Update 4pm: Mace reopens sites with reduced workforce

Mace has reopened a number of its sites after suspending all construction activity for two weeks.

After temporarily closing sites to make preparations so they comply with site operating procedures, Bam and Wates have restarted work at some of their sites.

Redrow joined the growing list of contractors suspending work at their sites last week amid fears about the on-site spread of coronavirus. 

Costain said it was reviewing all aspects of their operation, while Kier re-opened its sites on Thursday after closing them for just one day.

Canary Wharf Group and Wilmott Dixon has also said it will continue to operate sites wherever possible.

Lendlease confirmed that their sites will remain closed, having originally paused work for 48 hours.

Skanska has said it will close all its London sites but that other sites will continue to operate if they are able to comply with necessary requirements, including not travelling on public transport.

Multiplex became the first major contractor to shut down sites voluntarily on Tuesday after the prime minister put the UK on a three week coronavirus lockdown on Monday night.

Other firms including ISG and Speller Metcalfe have also signalled they are set to start closing sites, while housebuilders Barratt and Taylor Wimpey have also stopped work on their projects.

Crossrail and Transport for London have confirmed they will be shutting their sites as well, while brick maker Forterra said yesterday afternoon it was suspending all business operations as soon as possible until further notice.

This table will be updated as more firms announce their plans. 

OrganisationStatus of sites

Mace

UPDATE: Building understands that around 20 sites reopened this week but the workforce will be significantly reduced with just 400 people working across all reopened jobs.

The firm’s 90 active sites in the UK were closed from 24/03 while new safety procedures are being discussed.

A spokesperson for Mace said: ”It has become clear that we are unable to comply with Public Health England recommendations on social distancing of our workforce and we therefore have made the difficult decision today to temporarily suspend all of Mace’s site operations – with the exception of safety critical work – for at least the next 48 hours from 5pm this evening.”

Barratt

A spokesperson for Barratt Developments said: “The health and safety of customers and employees is our number one priority and yesterday we took the decision to temporarily close our 400 offices and sites across the country. We are in the process of doing this safely and securely as quickly as possible.”

Multiplex

In an email seen by Building that was sent to the firm’s 900 staff late Monday night (23/03) Multiplex’s chief operating officer Callum Tuckett said: “In response to the prime minister’s public address earlier tonight, we have no reasonable option but to close down all construction sites immediately and until further notice.”

Kier

Kier told staff to return to sites on Thursday 26 March despite an increasing number of contractors deciding to suspend works because of concerns about the coronavirus outbreak. Their sites were shut the previous day.

ISG

ISG said it will suspend activity across sites which cannot meet an “enhanced risk profile test”, which includes the ability to operate a number of sittings in canteens, issues around hoists and site accessibility for workers who would normally use public transport. It has not yet been confirmed how many sites are expected to shut but ISG said had begun letting clients know of its decision.

Willmott Dixon

A spokesperson for Willmott Dixon said: “As long as the site can adhere to the CLC guidance over 2m distancing, we remain open but monitoring on a daily basis. Local teams are empowered to stop if they cannot meet the 2m rule, but if they can they are open.”

Taylor Wimpey

In an update to the City on Tuesday morning (24/03), Taylor Wimpey said it would shut down all its sites by the end of the day.

Galliard Homes 

Galliard Homes said it was closing down sites across London with immediate effect. “It will remove 2,500 Galliard construction workers from the London transport network,” the firm said.

Redrow

Redrow said on Tuesday morning that it was keeping sites open for now, with workers adhering to social distancing. In a trading update to the City which did not refer to the prime minister’s announcement Monday night of further substantial restrictions on movement, the housebuilder said it was also implementing “additional hygiene facilities”.

UPDATE (26/03): Redrow is now closing “most” of its sites, according to a spokesperson. In a statement, Redrow said: “We’re in the process of temporarily suspending some of our construction sites. A number remain open to ensure that those customers about to move into their new property aren’t left without access to a home and the capability to isolate effectively.”

UPDATE (27/03): Redrow has now confirmed it is closing all of its sites and “furloughing” a significant portion of its staff.

Crossrail

All sites to shut as soon as it is safe to do so. Chief executive Mark Wild said: “While we are doing everything we safely can to keep the Crossrail programme on track, COVID-19 will have an impact – it’s too early to tell what that impact will be.”

 TfL

All sites to shut as soon as it is safe to do so. TfL commissioner Mike Brown said: “TfL will be bringing all project sites to a temporary safe stop unless they need to continue for operational safety reasons. This means that work on all such projects will be temporarily suspended as soon as it is safe to do so.”

Speller Metcalfe

Speller Metcalfe said it has made the decision to temporarily close the vast majority of its construction sites. The only sites which will remain open are those where we are delivering critical works is for the NHS.

Interserve

Sites remain open today but Interserve is “reviewing the situation constantly.” A spokesperson said: “Safety procedures have been in place for weeks but are updated every day.”

REIDsteel

The steel construction firm is closing its manufacturing facility in Christchurch, Dorset, and all of its construction sites until further notice. Managing director Simon Boyd said: “I appreciate that the government has many difficult choices to make. However it does appear that it is behind the curve. I would encourage ministers to go even further with stronger measures to restrict movement and halt the spread of this virus.”

Hill

Construction operations on Hill sites will cease by close of business on 27 March. Hill said: “We have been planning for this over recent weeks, and so have a clear plan for doing so. It is important that we continue until Friday so that we can ensure an orderly and well managed close down.” Where Hill has homes that are very close to being ready for completion, it will try to complete them if practically possible.

Durkan

Group chief executive at Durkan, Ronan Murphy, said: “Following the prime minister’s statement, the board of directors have decided to temporarily close all Durkan construction sites and sales offices with effect from 24 March at 5pm, until further notice.”

Careys

Careys confirmed all of its sites will close within the next three days. In a statement, the contractor said: “We are working with our partners in the industry to safely close our site operations over the next 72 hours. This is the right and responsible action to take and we see it as our civic duty to take this action now. While we conduct this exercise our skeleton staff will abide by safe social distancing.”

L&Q

L&Q has confirmed that it will shut down its London construction sites for at least three weeks as efforts to clamp down on the spread of coronavirus ramp up. The firm said it had found that social distancing on construction sites was extremely difficult to achieve and that in London the firm’s construction workers were heavy users of the public transport network. 

Lendlease

A spokesperson for Lendlease said: “Our regional leadership team have decided that operational work on our projects in the UK will remain on pause for the near term, so that we can continue to establish whether work is able to take place safely on those sites in line with Government guidance on social distancing.

“Where practical we will restart work as soon as possible but our priority remains being able to operate safely at those projects. And we will continue to liaise with government, industry bodies and other stakeholders about how we can do so.”

Persimmon

In an announcement to the City on Wednesday morning Persimmon said: “All Persimmon regional offices will also close, with only a skeleton staff to facilitate the wider workforce working from home. Construction sites are commencing an orderly shutdown with only essential work taking place which will be focused on making partly built homes safe and secure and where failure to complete the build could put customers in a vulnerable position.”

McCarthy & Stone

Retirement specialist McCarthy & Stone has said work will stop on nearly all of its sites. It said: “All build activity is being safely paused across our entire development programme with the exception of certain specific sites which are close to completion.” The firm also announced that more than 300 newly completed apartments in unoccupied developments had been offered to help the government and local authority care providers to address the acute shortage of beds for older people during this period.

Bellway

Jason Honeyman, chief executive of Bellway, said: “We closed all of our newer developments last week and have started the process of closing our remaining sites. We expect that this will happen by lunchtime on Friday.”

Morgan Sindall

Morgan Sindall said certain construction sites had already closed under instruction from the relevant clients and this is expected to increase across a number of divisions and activities. In addition, activity on other sites and projects is slowing and progress with some development schemes in the regeneration activities is becoming more uncertain. 

Wates

Wates decided to pause activity on all construction, engineering, fit-out, housebuilding and planned maintenance projects for 48 hours from the close of business on 24 March. Projects where Wates has been able to re-plan its activities, so it complies with the site operating procedures in full reopened on Friday 27 March or on Monday 30 March. All other sites and projects will remain closed. Wates suspended work for 24 hours at Sandwell Aquatics Centre, which will be used for the Birmingham Commonwealth Games 2022, to double check that the necessary measures are in place to enable staff to continue to work safely. Work restarted on Thursday 26 March.

Countryside

In an announcement to the City on Wednesday morning Countryside said: ”Having considered the Government’s latest advice, the Group has decided to close and suspend all construction works on its sites. Sales offices have also been closed.” The firm has also withdrawn financial guidance for the current financial year and is suspending dividend payments until further notice.

Sir Robert McAlpine

Paul Hamer, chief executive of Sir Robert McAlpine, said: “As of today, Wednesday 25 March 2020, most of our sites will be closed to all but essential safety and security employees.” The only McAlpine sites that remain operational are those where it is safe to do so and where critical work, such as building hospitals continues, or where the firm is putting safe shutdown plans into operation.

Berkeley

A spokesperson for Berkeley Group said: “The government has confirmed that homebuilding sites can continue to operate while implementing social distancing guidance. Berkeley sites have introduced stringent distancing and hygiene measures to minimise contact, reduce risks and keep everyone safe.”

Vistry

The firm has commenced the process of closing its construction sites, ensuring sites are safe and secure. The handover of completed units scheduled for the next two weeks will continue where customers would like to move in, and we will follow strict health and safety protocols. Most office staff are in a position to work from home.

Skanska

Skanska has said that all of its London sites where it is the main contractor will close since it does ”not believe that workers can travel safely on public transport at present and observe social distancing.” The contractor’s major London projects include 80 Fenchurch and Ropemaker, both in the City of London. It added: “The exceptions are those sites deemed to be essential work, and as long as they meet Skanska’s stringent safety requirements, as well as those outlined in the Construction Leadership Council’s recently published Site Operating Procedures. Other Skanska work sites will continue to operate if they are able to comply with these requirements, including not travelling on public transport.”

Bam

Following extensive checks and agreements with its project teams, clients and supply chain, Bam are re-starting work today (30 March) at a number of sites across the UK including existing projects critical to the national covid-19 effort. Bam is also starting work on new projects to build emergency covid-19 wards.

Bam said: ”We will keep the working arrangements under constant review. The closed sites are predominantly in Scotland, London and the Midlands and we continue to work on how these can be safely re-opened at a future date.”

Bouygues

Bouygues has shut its sites except for those jobs which are providing healthcare facilities and are able to continue these safely and protect the welfare of the staff, supply chain and client stakeholders involved.

The firm said: ”Bouygues UK has taken the decision to close its construction sites to ensure the health and safety of our staff, supply chain and the communities in which we operate. We have agreed this decision with our clients and our operational teams across the UK have worked hard to shut down our sites safely and securely.The requirement that sites should maintain social distancing and avoid public transport is not achievable and this, alongside the shortage of PPE and sanitising products makes it the only safe decision.”

Balfour Beatty

In a statement, Balfor Beatty said: ”The health, safety and wellbeing of all those who work with and for us, as well as the general public, is always our priority. In line with the current guidance on COVID-19 from the UK Government, our sites and contracts will remain operational where we are able to appropriately implement the standard operating procedure issued on 24 March 2020 by the Construction Leadership Council, and endorsed by Public Health England, to ensure the continued health, safety and wellbeing of all those who work with and for us.”

McAleer & Rushe

The contractor has closed its sites. A spokesperson said: “We believe that the only way we can comply with the guidance from the Government and Public Health England was to temporarily suspend work on our sites. We arrived at that decision reluctantly: but we feel it is the right to do. We continue to monitor this position and will seek to reopen our projects on an individual basis as soon as it is safe to do so. We will do this in close collaboration with our staff, clients and supply chain.”

Costain

A Costain spokesperson said, “This is a fast moving situation and our priority is to ensure we adhere to government guidelines and do the right thing by society, our people and our clients. We are currently urgently reviewing all aspects of our operations in consultation with our clients to establish what work can continue and what actions we will need to take if we cannot continue to work. We hope you will understand that we are not able to share details about individual contracts at this time.”

Canary Wharf Group

A statement from Canary Wharf Group said: ”In light of the latest government advice our construction sites remain open. We have implemented enhanced measures on our construction sites such as additional access points, deployed detailed measures to give practical effect to social distancing advice and to control the spread of infection, and mitigate the risk to anyone who works on them. We have also required that every trade contractor assess their activities and remind their workforce to enact social distancing, stagger/rotate shift patterns and maintain a high level of hygiene by washing hands regularly and using the available hand sanitizers. We have also significantly reduced the number of people on site.”

Last updated: 4pm, 07/04